Posts By Elizabeth Black


Happy 25th Anniversary, Seinfeld! Prepare To Read A Post About Nothing

Seinfeld, the TV show as we know it, started out as a pilot on July 5, 1989 called The Seinfeld Chronicles. After a shaky first episode devoid of Elaine Benes and Kramer (Michael Richards played the part but he was named Kessler back then — it’s truly a bizarro-Jerry thing to watch), the show found its footing and became the pillar of nothingness that we all recognize.

When most TV shows end, they’re mourned and, if they’re lucky, they live on in syndication, but Seinfeld left such an impact on pop culture that there are references that still pop up in daily life that we’re guessing people (kids these days!) don’t even realize came from the show. From skinny mirrors to shrinkage to big salads, here are the things that are just as relevant twenty five years later. This is not comprehensive by any means, so if you think we missed any essential references, feel free to air your grievances in the comments. Read more…


Philip Seymour Hoffman Dead Of Apparent Overdose

Actor Philip Seymour Hoffman was found dead in his home this morning, the NYPD has confirmed. Though the New York City medical examiner is working to establish a cause of death, 46-year-old actor reportedly was discovered with a needle in his arm by screenwriter David Katz.

Hoffman was sober for 23 years before relapsing last year, after which point he entered rehab for abuse of prescription pills and snorting heroin.

In a 2006 interview with 60 Minutes, the Oscar-winner told Steve Kroft that his success was the result of getting clean at 22. “I have so much empathy for these young actors that are 19 and all of a sudden they’re beautiful and famous and rich,” Hoffman said. “I’m like, ‘Oh my God. I’d be dead.’ You know what I mean? I’d be 19, beautiful, famous and rich. That would be it. I think back at that time. I think if I had the money, that kind of money and stuff. So, yeah [I would have died].” Upon his death, his earlier statement is that much more tragic. He will truly be missed.

Celebrities react on Twitter:

View Photo Gallery

[Photo: Getty Images]


VH1′s Latest Rock Doc, The Tanning Of America, To Premiere February 2014

Steve Stoute’s 2011 book, The Tanning Of America, was a revolutionary look at the history of hip-hop culture, and in early 2014, the book will be the basis for VH1′s latest Rock Doc This very special four-part series will include interviews with everyone from Diddy and Pharrell to Al Sharpton to Cory Booker and takes a look at how hip-hop has played a role not just in the entertainment world but in politics, civil rights and American culture as a whole. Read on for more details about the series which premieres in February 2014.

Read more…


Connie Britton On The Nashville Plot Twist That Threw Her For A Loop, And If Rayna And Juliette Will Ever Be Allies

Nashville only has one full season under its belt and already they’ve implemented just about every soap opera device out there: false paternity, fake pregnancies, murder-suicide, and fiery car crashes. And that’s all happened within the last five episodes. Connie Britton, who plays country star Rayna James on the series, spoke to us recently and we had to know, what plot twist has surprised her the most? Read more…


Celebrate The O.C.‘s 10th Anniversary With A Look At 15 Guest Stars Who Made It Big

Has it really been 10 whole years since Newport’s preppy dirtbag Luke Ward uttered the phrase, “Welcome to the O.C., bitch!”? It really has. Oof. The O.C. premiered in August 2003 on Fox and became an immediate addiction for some of us, thanks to the music, the melodrama, and of course, The Nana. A lot can happen in 10 years, which is why, when we were checking out some old episodes recently, we realized that the series has a huge share of guest stars who went on to become the next big thing.

View Photo Gallery

Read more…


Seinfeld, South Park And Beyond: The Pop Cultural Prevalence Of Les Miserables

Les Miserables In Pop Culture
Les Miserables is one of the most referenced musicals ever. Sure, it’s got some competition from Phantom of the Opera and Cats, but in general, no other musical has permeated pop culture the way Les Miz has. From Susan Boyle to South Park to, yeah, even Homeland, the references are all over the place, and we compiled a list of the 10 biggest ones we could think of. You might have forgotten about some of these, but we’re here to refresh your memory and get you as psyched as George Costanza to see this movie when it comes out Christmas day.

1. The guys at South Park love them some Les Miz. They named an episode from season four “Prisoner 24601,” but their biggest homage to the show was the anthemic “La Resistance” song from the Bigger, Longer, And Uncut film. An obvious nod to “One Day More,” it’s rousing, it’s patriotic…it brings a tear to the eye, really. Fans on YouTube have created dozens of comparisons between the Les Miz version and the South Park song (here’s just one) but here’s a crappy clip from the movie.

2. George Costanza might have been master of his domain on Seinfeld but he also had a thing for “Master of the House,” which he just could NOT get out of his head for an entire episode. But who hasn’t gotten this song stuck in their head? Yet another reason that Seinfeld is the best, most accurate show in history, they turned every real-life annoyance into a plot line.

3. The Simpsons wouldn’t be The Simpsons if they didn’t tip their hat to every single pop cultural phenomenon in history, so of course, like South Park they also had a Prisoner 24601 reference, but this time it was Principal Skinner’s POW number. It was also used as Sideshow Bob’s prisoner number.
Read more…


Now That Carrie Underwood Is Maria Von Trapp, Who Else Should Be Cast In The Sound Of Music Remake?

My awesome colleague Halle Kiefer reported this past Friday that Carrie Underwood has been picked to play Maria von Trapp in a new NBC revival of The Sound Of Music. Halle was excited by the news, but she did acknowledge that there are purists out there who “might find Carrie too pop/country/tan/not Julie Andrews to step into Julie Andrews’ shoes.” That’s me. I’ve seen the film at least 20 times, I own commemorative plates, books, and the newly released 45th Anniversary Edition of the film on Blu-Ray and DVD (complete with karaoke singalong tracks and a keepsake music box!), I DVR’d the crap out of the cast reunion on Oprah and I nearly turned my honeymoon into a whirlwind tour of Salzburg so I could “Do Re Mi” up the steps of the Mirabell Gardens. So yeah, I’m a fan. And I’m not feeling Carrie Underwood.

It pains me to see anyone try to do justice to the role that, to me, IS Julie Andrews, and while I think Carrie has a killer voice, there’s something about her “type” that’s not sitting well with me. Yes, Halle, it’s partly the country/tan aspect, but I wish someone with maybe a little more, you know, acting experience, had been chosen. Broadway vet/Bunheads star Sutton Foster maybe? Rachel Weisz, who has some kind of hold on me when I think of cool, young maternal types? (But can she sing? I have no idea — even if she can, I bet she’s not a soprano.) Or yes, even Anne Hathaway, who co-starred in The Princess Diaries with Andrews and seems like a natural fit (THIS WOULD NOT BE MY FIRST CHOICE, I’M JUST SAYIN’ SHE’D BE BETTER THAN CARRIE). But seeing that I can’t change the casting of Maria, I’m at least going to put in my two cents about who else should join the film and make it tolerable since this is happening and there’s nothing else I can do about it.

Read more…


The 10 Best Local Commercials In New York History

I remember when I was in college, I visited New York City and one of the things on my to-do list was to watch an episode of The Robin Byrd Show, the famous local-access show that was parodied on SNL. I wanted to know everything about being a “REAL” New Yorker, and apparently, watching this show was an important piece of that puzzle. But to all of you aspiring New Yorkers, let me advise you, don’t be like me. Late night cable access is not where it’s at anymore. What makes you a true New Yorker is an obsessive knowledge of our local commercials. Our local cable station, NY1 (and its glorious morning anchor Pat Kiernan) do a great job of running some real classics, and we’ve picked our favorites through the years so you can get acquainted with what to expect when you move into your new apartment in SqaViNetA (that’s the new, hot neighborhood, it stands for the Squatters Village In Nets Arena).

10. Grand Prospect Hall

The Grand Prospect Hall. This is the mother of all New York television spots. Trust me when I say that all New Yorkers are conditioned to say “The Gran’ Prospeh Hall…We make you dreams cahm true!” the instant that Vivaldi starts playing.

9. Raymour & Flanigan

My only goal in life, other than to be a world-famous blogger of local TV commercials, is to sing in a local TV commercial. Specifically, I want to be one of the “Oh..Oh” singers in the Raymour And Flanigan spot.

Read more…


In Honor Of Tax Day: The 12 Sexiest Celebrity Tax Evaders Ever!

Everyone knows that not paying taxes can become a celebrity’s legacy. (Go with me on this.) When someone mentions Willie Nelson or Wesley Snipes, if you don’t automatically make a joke about weed or Passenger 57, the next easy go-to in your bag of Nelson-Snipes jokes is totally about tax evasion, I just know it. But stars who don’t abide by the tax code are such a common thing that it’s not that shocking anymore once you hear who’s been in hot water for it. Martha Stewart. Snoop Dogg. Val Kilmer. Teri Polo! Clearly she wasn’t reporting her income from being a Miss America judge.

So sure, lots of celebs get in trouble for it, but haven’t we all wondered who the sexiest tax evaders are? We sure have:

12. Burt Reynolds

This centerfold was no angel (see what I did there?), Burt owed the state of California $225,000 back in 1996.


11. Sophia Loren

Back in the early 1980′s, Sophia owed Italy over $600,000. You know if Berlusconi was president back then, she would have gotten away with it.

Read more…


Thanks, Easter Bunny…Bok Bok! The Five Best Easter Commercials Of Yore

As a kid, I was conditioned to cherish that brief, six-week window when Saturday morning cartoons were interrupted by the parade of soft, cuddly animals auditioning to replace the Cadbury bunny in the run-up to Easter. Cadbury still shows the occasional bok-bok-ing bunny commercial, but beyond that, Easter as a marketing ploy seems to have fizzled out for some reason. Which is too bad because Easter used to provide some great marketing opportunities. My top five Easter commercials of all time? I’m glad you asked.

5. M&Ms

I love that this commercial is basically a Benetton ad of diversity that extended to time-traveling children who are beaten by their peers for candy.

4. Paas

“When I was growing up and you wanted to color Easter eggs, there was only one game in town. PAAS!”

Read more…